The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to apologise to Nigerians for his government’s ill-advised removal of the so-called fuel subsidy in January, saying the report of the House of Representatives Committee that probed the management of the subsidy had shown that the removal was an egregious error of judgement that had left Nigerians feeling swindled by their government.
“Against all informed pieces of advice, even from well-informed industry insiders and analysts, President Jonathan approved the removal of fuel subsidy and went ahead to defend it. Well, the President is human and therefore can also be wrong. But when he is, as it has now been proved, he should be humble enough to admit it and apologise,” the party said yesterday in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
It said after the apology, the President should then revert the fuel price to the pre-January price of 65 kobo per litre and then proceed to implement the recommendations of the committee without delay, especially the prosecution of all indicted persons and companies.
ACN also said whether or not the committee recommended such, the President should fire all those who advised -or misadvised – him on the fuel subsidy issue, especially the officials who wasted public funds in organising the charade called stakeholders’ meetings which, as it turned out, was an orchestrated scam, as the decision to remove the subsidy had already been taken.
“In more-civilized climes, those who bandied spurious figures to Nigerians and hinted that the economy would collapse if the subsidy was not removed – would by now have tendered their resignations – with apologies – over the discovery that what the government has been subsidizing over the years are corruption and inefficiency, not fuel.
“The sectional groups who threw their weight behind the fuel subsidy removal, for no other reason than that the President is their ‘son’, should also have repeated the adverts they placed in the newspapers, but this time repudiating their earlier adverts and apologising to Nigerians.
“Since honour is in short supply here, and these people are ready to carry on as if nothing has happened, the President should show rare courage by sacking all those he has the power to sack, and recommending the removal of those he cannot single-handedly remove. Any action short of the above will be a joke which Nigerians are not ready to accept,’’ the party said.
It said though many Nigerians have expressed shock and anger at the report of the House Committee, especially the huge payments made to unknown and unqualified fuel importers and the recommendation that the NNPC, PPPRA and some oil marketers should refund over 1 trillion naira, the party is not surprised that things have turned out this way.
“In statements after statements, we told the President that there is no subsidy on fuel, and that what the government claims to be subsidising are corruption and inefficiency. We quoted informed analysts, who proved – with facts and figures – that the average true price of a litre of fuel is N34.03. We suggested ways in which the government can truly deregulate the sector without inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians. But in the end, as always, the government ignored all the interventions and went ahead with its pre-meditated action.
“Nigerians were made to pay for the corruption perpetrated by a few fat cats in the name of fuel subsidy, and a government with the primary responsibility of ensuring the well-being of its citizens inflicted untold pain on them in the new year, as the prices of goods and services shot up in the wake of the fuel price hike and many who had travelled for the holidays were stranded for days. Someone has to pay for this fraud perpetrated against Nigerians,”ACN said.
The party commended the civil society groups and individuals who have vowed to ensure the implementation of the report, and promised to also ensure that the issue is kept in the front burner.
“No amount of intimidation, through the deployments of armed policemen to places of possible protests, can stop Nigerians from asking questions and demanding answers after the exposure of the knee-deep rot in this critical sector of the economy. Those who have been elected to lead must justify the peoples votes before asking for their support again. That is the essence of leadership,” it said.